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Good news and less good news.
As a one year “austerity measure”, the government removed most optical and dental benefits from those paying PRSI as a PAYE employee. This one year measure lasted rather longer than one year! I am not sure if this was taken away in 2008 or 2009?
At the Optometrist, entitled clients were still allowed a funded eye exam, but there was no help towards the cost of spectacles.
In the 2016 Budget, the government announced a broadening of the scheme, to include a contribution towards spectacles or contact lenses (about time!), also they increased the coverage to include those who were paying a Class S self employed stamp, and their dependent spouses for the first time.
I have also had confirmation that people who “dual qualify” – those who hold a medical card, but are also working, can choose which service they wish to use – if the Treatment Benefit authorises, we would suggest going that route every time – authorisation for a medical card sight test can take many weeks! That is the good news on the Treatment Benefit side.
Less good is the fact that we can no longer check your entitlement with verbal consent – we used to be able to get a person’s name and PPSn number over the phone and enquire to the Department if they would be allowed an eye exam. We now require your written and signed consent to ask this information, because of the upcoming European GDPR rules. (General Data Protection Regulations).
To confirm eligibility, all we need is your PPS number and your date of birth, but we do need to have signed and dated consent to do this.
We can also no longer enquire about any eligibility as a dependant spouse – we used to just require your and your spouse’s PPS numbers, but now you will need to send off a form, with your spouse’s signed consent to access this information.
Overall this is good news as many more people are now going to be entitled to a “Free” Eye Examination. It is not free, but it IS at no charge to you.
Most people should have their eyes checked every two years – don’t be fooled that just because you think you are seeing fine, that everything is OK. Seeing well is a great start, but Glaucoma is not called the “Thief of Sight” for nothing! Eye diseases are rare in young adults and children, but I could easily fill a good few posts about unexpected significant problems I have encountered in a routine, “no worries” eye exam!
Neither PRSI nor Medical Cards are supposed to be used for eye examinations in connection with employer VDU usage or employer Safety spectacles requirements. This is to ensure that the employee is not obliged to use their entitlement at any particular Optometrist.
Every year there is a national (AMD) week of attempting to raise awareness of the eye condition AMD (Age related Macular Degeneration).
There are two types of AMD. Neither form is curable at this time, but the vision in Dry AMD will slowly deteriorate over a number of years, and there is much evidence that eye health multivitamin supplements are very effective at slowing this condition down.
The more dramatic form of AMD is the exudative (Wet) form. This type of macular degeneration is caused by new blood vessels which grow underneath the retina. These vessels are leaky and prone to bursting. The leaking causes retinal swelling and visual distortion. The rupture of one of these blood vessels – a haemorrhage, causes the retina to be damaged into a scar which does not function. This means that the central straight ahead vision is irreparably damaged. This is the vision you require to read, drive, see the television and recognise a face, so it is a great loss to those who do not have it.
If Wet AMD is detected early enough it can be treated with intra-ocular injections of a drug which causes these abnormal vessels to “wither away”, and reduce their “leakiness”. This is likely to be an ongoing management, probably indefinitely, but it does significantly help control this condition. There are other possible treatments also, but this type is the most commonly used at the moment, as it is the most effective.
But here is the thing – A National Week of AMD awareness is not sufficient to deal with this devastating eye condition.
Neither is a regular sight test!!
Most eye conditions will be detected during a routine test, but Wet AMD can come on so rapidly that we would really need to be checking everyone every 3 weeks to exclude this possibility – obviously not possible. So you really do need to do this for yourself!
I am aware of many people who come in for a test, as they “need better glasses”, but it only becomes apparent to them (and me) that there has been a significant deterioration in their sight in one eye only. As they see as a pair, they were completely unaware of this significant drop in one – though we do not see twice as good with two eyes – 2 eyes are about 1.44 times better than one. But why really does it need the Optometrist to compare your eyes individually?
A particular gent I recall was very aware of Wet AMD as it is common in his family. He booked in not long (a couple of months) after he had had an eye test, as he had noticed that one of his eyes had changed – he noticed that a horizontal line had a very small kink in it in one eye. He was referred to see a specialist in Dublin, where the condition was unfortunately diagnosed in that eye. He had a round of three injections, and at his next scan, the specialist advised that the eye which was treated had responded well, but the condition was now also in the other eye. – It comes on that quickly!
So what to do?
Just compare your eyes! Ideally put an Amsler grid on the fridge door, but failing that, just compare the vision in the two eyes. If you can’t wink / close one at a time, use your hand to alternately cover the right and left eyes to compare them. If there is a difference between them, but there always was, (maybe you have a weaker eye), get to know what is normal for you? This way you should be able to detect the very earliest possible signs of this problematic disease, and the sooner it is detected, the sooner it can be treated, which is of the essence.
Once a week, be it the Sky guide, the Saorview guide, the newspaper or an Amsler grid, compare your eyes. I would also advise clients that they should come in if they are unsure if they have an issue – please do not wait until you are sure – this problem could be more advanced if you wait until you are sure!!
If you want to you can download an Amsler Grid Here.
Well, the staff might get a bit of a break, maybe, but I personally seem to be running a taxi delivery service for my kids over the weekend!
Back to work as usual on Tuesday.
We hope you all have a great weekend.
Please note that due to the expected bad weather this afternoon, we intend to close at 1.30 pm – we don’t expect to have too many visitors anyway!
Back to work tomorrow.
Just a quick note – when we were in our previous location in Bailieborough, opposite the Kingscourt Road, we had no end of people commenting that we were closing down. This was news to the staff and us at the time! The rumour started because the premises on the corner – the printer’s was closing down.
Eight years on… Boyle Sports has both units, but not relevant here.
A client recently commented that he had seen Peter Murtagh taking photographs of “our” premises, and asked if we were selling up?
There is now a For Sale sign on the second story window of our premises. But in smaller writing, underneath it does state “tenant not effected”. (Ejected???) Slight spelling mistake there – why don’t people who print signs have a spell checker?
The building is for sale – we do not own the building, and are unfortunately not in a position to purchase it at this time – I just checked my wallet, and nope, not enough cash there!
Hopefully things will continue on as they are – a new owner will purchase the property, and agree to let us stay, and we will not be affected, but there is always a possibility that a new owner may have other plans for the building.. This would likely cause a slight disruption to our service – we have moved before in Bailieborough, and it was a tough weekend, one I could do without repeating any time soon, but we could do it again, if we had to…
But the point of the post – We are NOT (NOT NOT) CLOSING!